Friday, August 6, 2010

Please do not disturb, migraine zone

I'm writing this post for a blog carnival for August on headaches. For eight years I kept a daily diary of my symptoms for the migraines and neuropathy: what I ate, how much sleep I got, what the weather was like, what I did for exercise, what else I did for the day (volunteer activity if any), etc. Then at the end of the month I would summarize the number of migraines, the number of days I had the severe tinnitus, the number of days I had neuropathy in the left side of my head hand and foot. This summary was done on a spread sheet. Then near the end of the eighth year a thought came to me to check to see if there were any trends in all of this time and I graphed it by month over the eight years. The only trend I saw was that it was just plain consistent whether I did nothing at all or was very active (that's relative of course), that the migraines and the neuropathic pain didn't change at all.

I realized at this point that this really depressed me. After a couple of days of thinking about it I decided to stop tracking all this information and just do what I wanted to do, within reason of course, and stop waiting for something else to happen. I was not going to wait for there to be a cure or for the pain to dissipate on it's own. I had to get on with my life as best as I could. I can't say this was a revelation, it was more like a realization that I had to figure out some way of coping with all of this and get some sort of life back. Realizing it was not going to be the life I had also depressed me and this took some time to deal with.

It's very humbling when something happens to you, beyond your control, that forces you to change your life; change your career, change your outlook and probably change other aspects of your life you don't even know about yet at this point. This happened to me. I had to give up a career as a successful CPA because I wasn't able to perform most of those duties due to my cognitive impairment and chronic pain. I really loved this career because of the people I worked with, the clientele, the variety and the constant learning. I love to learn.

I started to volunteer as much as I could at different places trying to figure out what I would do next - what job skills could I still do and not do so I could find the appropriate job/career and start that new chapter of my life. I worked with an occupational therapist who helped me immensely with breaking down the tasks so I could do them without taxing my brain and tackle my concentration and distraction problems. We also figured out by trial and error what work environment would be better for me.

I didn't give up on my mind/body program principles of pacing myself, practicing mindfulness and redirecting my negative thoughts. I still use these to help me get through each and every day.

I am now working part-time and that may all be that I will be able to work but that's okay. I'm working at something I love again, something new but uses my intellect to the extent that I can use it and I'm around lots of people again and learning new things which I love to do. Life is good.

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